Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Dublin - The Craic

Old friendships last in Ireland...

It's not often one returns from a hectic two day exhibition feeling exhilerated - usually the feelings are tired, worn out, weary and looking forward to a few days of catch up - yet after our trips to Ireland we always seem to be invigorated and ready to face the world again.

I suppose one could put this down to Guinness, perhaps the sea air from the crossing or the change being in another country brings. I think that we put it down to our friends from Ireland who always appear to be so pleased to see us, our acquaintances and Frankie's fans who unfailingly make us feel welcome - and of course the Craic.

To borrow from Wiki:
"Craic" (/ʔkræk/ krak), or "crack", is a term for news, gossip, fun, entertainment, and enjoyable conversation, particularly prominent in Ireland.[1][2][3] It is often used with the definite article – the craic.[1] The word has an unusual history; the English crack was borrowed into Irish as craic in the mid-20th century and the Irish spelling was then reborrowed into English.[1] Under either spelling, the term has great cultural currency and significance in Ireland.

I'm not at all sure about the word 'reborrowed' but that's Wikipedia for you.  Anyway, the sentiment is about right, it doesn't actually cover any one thing - it's about the whole deal, the entire package of friendship, company, food, drink, entertainment, ambiance (a mix of cultures, languages and etimology never did any harm - honest!) and atmosphere - or - the craic.

It's great that one word can cover a whole range of actions, feelings and environments but that's exactly what happened on our first evening back in Dublin after two years away. We met up with our friends at the Lemon Tree and immediately we were comfortable, deep in conversation with great drink and food instantly at hand and with a room full of friendly people, any one of whom we felt might interact with us at any time and in an equally friendly manner. It was an amazingly comfortable feeling. 

Only in Ireland though. I can rarely recall feeling that at ease in mixed company anywhere else; and even during the exhibition people would treat us as long list friends or family - even complete strangers. The Irish attitude is that we probably are all related anyway and with a surname like mine it's a given. I'm the Plastic Paddy though - an appellation I treasure, given to me years ago by some very dear friends. "Plastic" in this instance also means many things, a wannabe Irishman, a long, lost ancestor, third generation, English sounding, not really Irish, Kerryman. That's me - all of the above - but not the reason that Ireland is a wonderful country to visit. 

It's a beautiful place: flat rolling fields, heather covered mountains, water everywhere and a heritage that could take several lifetimes to explore. All this and wonderful bars where you're made to feel instantly at home, locals who make your welfare their concern and food delivered to the bar if you can't stagger to the restaurant. 

Directions that start with "Well.... You can't get there from here...", a stone that needs kissing if you're going to want the charm, a beer as black as night with a white foam head - yet a music culture second to none, art and dance as intriguing as any, a love of horses and horse racing and of all sport that is spoken of in hushed tones in pubs all over the country. 

We always look forward to our trips to Ireland, they're always different, yet always with the same result - a relaxed feeling of satisfaction and time well spent in good company, a feeling that you're liked - treasured even - and a longing to return.